Project Power

Critics Consensus

Although it wastes some of the potential of its premise, Project Power is a slick, fun action thriller - and features a star-making turn from Dominique Fishback.

60%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 169

47%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,437

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Movie Info

A former soldier teams up with a cop to find the source behind a dangerous pill that provides temporary superpowers.

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Critic Reviews for Project Power

All Critics (169) | Top Critics (28) | Fresh (102) | Rotten (67)

  • Project Power's veins may run thick with pure hokum. But it's hard to object to a film this serious about being silly.

    November 22, 2020 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • A film built on the thrill of the now, the hyper-modernity on show in hip-hop trappings, tricks lifted from gaming and yes, the availability of the whole thing at the push of a button in the palm of your hand.

    August 19, 2020 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • This movie is passable popcorn entertainment - a two-hour distraction... that won't stand the test of time but was never intended to.

    August 18, 2020 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • This film is nonsense.

    August 18, 2020 | Full Review…
  • An entertaining revenge movie, but the dark and weird material is rendered without enough regard for that potential.

    August 16, 2020 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

    Robert Levin

    Newsday
    Top Critic
  • "Project Power" is the kind of action/sci-fi bone-cruncher where the cast is better than the material, the characters are more interesting than the premise, and the dialogue chugs along in the middle.

    August 14, 2020 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

    Ty Burr

    Boston Globe
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Project Power

  • Aug 18, 2020
    The appeal of Project Power is immediate with its premise, which stirred a bidding war before finally ending up with Netflix. Take a pill and become a super hero for five minutes. Every person has a unique power and won't know what that entails until they swallow that pill. However, there is also a risk that your body has a negative reaction of the exploding kind. I can see why studios would be all over that, on top of the fact that it plays into established popular cultural tropes, it still gets to be an original property. The finished film, on the other hand, leaves much to be desired, and I'm convinced that this hot commodity script went through a gauntlet of rewrites and producer interference, each new obstacle dimming and diminishing what made Project Power an exciting and compelling idea from inception. Well the concept is still interesting, and its relatively grounded sci-fi world has genuine potential, but the movie falls flat and is far too generic to be special. Drug dealers are flushing New Orleans with a super pill that activates fantastic powers, though only for five-minute integrals. Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a local police officer who secretly keeps a stash of the pills for himself, to juice up to take on the escalating criminals. His supplier is Robin (Dominick Fishback), a teenager looking for a better life, who comes into contact with the mysterious and volatile Art (Jamie Foxx). He's a man on a mission and working his way across the streets to go from supplier to supplier, working his way up the criminal food chain until he can confront the authority behind the super pill creation and distribution. The premise by debut screenwriter Mattson Tomlin (The Batman) is tantalizing and makes every pill its own "what if?" scenario. I'm unsure whether or not the risk of bodily explosion occurs for every person or simply those whom the drug doesn't agree with. I think it would be more interesting if every person stood some chance of risk. I talked about it with my girlfriend, if there was a pill that granted super powers but it also ran the chance of death, would you take it? We both answered, "Of course." Who wouldn't want to be a super hero, even if it's only for five minutes? Naturally, much like within the X-Men universe, not every super power is on the same level of being useful. There's a guy who grows extra bones, which serve as spikes attached to his body. I guess that's something. It reminded me of the unfortunate mutant in X-Men 3 who could grow porcupine quills from his face (he even managed to coax someone near him to kill them). With such a momentous shift in human evolution, and through the angle of drug addiction, you would think Project Power would be the early steps of a complete re-examination of a changing society and the forces falling behind to try and catch up. This should be a big deal, and yet it never feels that way in this world. Super-powered criminals aren't running rampant. One invisible guy robs a bank naked and it's comedy. Nobody seems too panicked or bothered. It weirdly feels like everyone has already not only accepted this reality but compartmentalized it. If one city has a new super drug, would it not stand that others in neighboring cities and states and countries would also desire it? Should this not be dominating the news? The characters are remarkably generic. Our heroes include a beat cop who "doesn't play by all the rules" and goes on a secret mission to root out this drug conspiracy, a young black woman who wants to be an aspiring rapper while she's slinging drugs, and a military veteran who was subjected to experiments and is desperate to find and save his kidnapped daughter. We've seen each of these archetypes in a thousand other action thrillers, and the fact that Project Power doesn't give us any more than this is stunning. With some minute personal details, I have laid out everything we know about the three main characters in this movie. That's it. It's like each character was checking an archetype box and then was forgotten to be fleshed out. The worst is Art, a character that is coasting on Foxx's attitude and charisma but is otherwise completely vacant. The kidnapped daughter storyline is maybe the most boring motivation that a protagonist could be saddled with. He might as well be a video game character from 90s-era titles, a military man who was betrayed by his government, experimented upon, given dangerous new powers, and now he's striking out to save his daughter. It's so bland and generic and boring. None of the major characters exhibit an interesting personality quirk, flaw, desire, or a point to make them more interesting than if a new nameless character had suddenly taken over from the background. This extends to the villains as well. Their evil schemes are too vague and they're just as generic and bland. The villains are also far too easily defeated, which drains any threat from their machinations. Without memorable or effective villains, Project Power limps to a finish, lacking the needed payoffs of our heroes triumphing over their foes. Does anyone care when Art defeats a secondary antagonist that is introduced far too late in the final twenty minutes? It's too late to be introducing a Big Bad in the movie that is meant to be savored when vanquished. It's not satisfying when the bad guys are dumb or nebulous or too easily beaten. I felt more antipathy with a bearded henchman than I did with any of his superiors. This is such an easy thing to do, establish a worthy opposition with personality and menace, a force that an audience will feel a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment over their eventual defeat. Make the villains matter. Regrettably, the villains in Project Power are just as generic and underdeveloped as the heroes. Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman have dabbled in many genres, first documentary (Catfish), then found footage horror (Paranormal Activity 3 and 4), then youthful thrillers with social media satire (Nerve), and now super hero action cinema. The versatility is to be commended, and they certainly infuse plenty of energetic style into Project Power. The special effects are pretty good when the powers are somewhat visually chaotic, like a drug dealer who becomes the Human Torch, running through ignitable room after room, while the camera zips along, lovingly documenting the rippling flames and embers. The camerawork and lighting can definitely provide jolts of excitement and engagement when the storytelling falters. However, there are moments that should have been avoided, like violent acts presented in unclear ways, perhaps trying to avoid a harsher rating that it ultimately got anyway. Another sequence is from the point of view of a dying woman trapped inside a container, and the action from the other side of the glass is almost completely obscured. The woman's suffering seemed so overboard that it reminded me of that poor assistant lady who had a more gruesome death in Jurassic World than its actual villain. It's a misplaced stylistic touch. A villain takes the drug and turns into a giant CGI troll, like something from 2002's Chamber of Secrets and is goofy and misplaced. For a movie that is trying to be gritty and somewhat grounded, a giant CGI troll is a blunder. Joost and Schulman are currently attached to write and direct a Mega Man movie next, and I imagine this was a trial run for super-powered androids blasting one another to dust. The Project Power playbook is pretty familiar and underwhelming in its creativity and development. The concept is there but the movie too often feels content to settle for less, trading in stereotypical heroes, vague villains, and muddled action sequences goosed with flashes of style to mask their lack of personal stakes and imagination. The scope of the movie is too frustratingly myopic and under-developed, like a nascent pilot for a TV series that provides impressions with a latent promise of getting back to storylines later. Except later will never arrive. Project Power (even the name is generic) is a super hero movie that feels like everything you've already seen before. It's far less than super. Nate's Grade: C
    Nate Z Super Reviewer
  • Aug 14, 2020
    I'm a sucker for an original concept revolving around superpowers. I even enjoy movies that most critics pan, like Jumper or Push. For that reason alone, I was looking forward to Netflix's feature film, Project Power. This isn't a perfect film by any means, but if you're looking for some solid entertainment as you're scrolling through Netflix, you can find much worse than this one. Now streaming, here are my thoughts on Project Power.  The film begins by sucking you into this world where new pills have been developed, which in turn give you a random power, but only for five minutes at a time. There are side effects that could lead to death and some will only use it to become criminals, so it's not all sunshine and rainbows. The idea of that alone is what hooked me from the start, but I couldn't help but feel slightly underwhelmed at where the story ends up. At its core, this is just a story about a man trying to get his daughter back, who has been kidnapped by the people who run this new organization. With such a rich world to invest in, the story felt pretty stale at times.  With that said, I was able to look past the flaws in the story and have quite a good time with the action sequences and cool powers people were receiving. Yes, the heart of the story revolves around Art (Jamie Foxx) and his mission to get his daughter back, but I was more interested in the side characters Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Robin (Dominique Fishback). Their dynamic with each other, as well as the screen time Fishback gets with Foxx were easily the most enjoyable aspects. All three of these performances were top-notch, but I was more impressed with Fishback, because Foxx and Gordon-Levitt are usually always fantastic. Where this film shines and falters at the same time is in the powers department. Project Power can be a really awesome concept when certain powers are utilized to heighten a certain action sequence, but the powers started to feel like plot devices in themselves towards the final act. The powers are supposed to be random, yet certain characters were able to get out of situations easily because they happened to get the perfect power for a specific situation. That made me roll my eyes a bit, but when it comes down to it, a complaint like that for a movie like this is really just a nitpick. Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman have made a couple of films that I've enjoyed in the past. Most notably with the film Nerve. I thought that film was far more entertaining than it had any right to be, which is why I enjoyed the feel of this movie overall. Project Power is a blast to watch, but it's not without its pretty glaring issues story-wise. Some viewers may not like it for the violence or lackluster overall story, but I just thought it was a fun ride to take and it never felt boring. Project Power gets a solid recommendation from me.
    KJ P Super Reviewer

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